Well I made it, I ducked in under the wire on the very last day of the exhibition Brains. The Mind as Matter. So glad I did.
As I set out Mr Uphilldowndale asked ‘Where is it you’re going?’ (in that husband and wife way that says we’ve may have been talking to one another all week but were we listening?) ‘I’m going to see an exhibition about the brain, a mixture of science and art’ I replied. ‘Can you mix the two?’ he asked (I hoped he was jesting, as Leonardo Da Vinci seemed to manage it OK). ‘It’s at the Museum of Science and Industry’ I told him. ‘Ahh that’s OK then’ he replied. Ever the engineer.
My favourite art exhibit was by Katherine Dowson* My Soul 2005 no photograph I can find does really does it justice. Laser etched in two blocks of glass, it shimmered like a mirage, now you see it now you don’t . Now you understand it now you don’t,
Many of the exhibits were human remains and the advisory age was 14years + given the sensitive nature of some items. However, there were plenty of younger children in the gallery, which wasn’t a problem, although I noted some of kids looked like they were being primed very early for a career in medicine, and hat they may have been happier,doing a post-mortem on a bit of road kill in the garden shed, with a junior hacksaw set, rather than having every detailed label read to them.
Whilst I was at ease with the human exhibits, and fascinated by the craftsmanship, and beauty of centuries old moulage, what I found deeply moving were the sections of the exhibition given to over to both ‘giving and taking’.
Taking, the horror of the children and adults murdered by the Nazis under a policy of euthanasia, some 120 000 people killed, those with apparent hereditary disease or deemed to be feeble in mind and body. The doctors who perpetrated such acts and then who then went on to have successful medical careers after the war, could only give rise to disgust.
Giving, the compassionate and telling photographic portraits by Ania Dabrowska of those who had decided to donate their brain to medical science. This brought very personal emotions, as my father in law who died earlier this year left his body to medical science.
Albert Webb wearing a jumper he knitted himself, depicting his late dog Lucy. Photo Ania Dabrowska
The exhibition is now closed, the book however isn’t and of course the mind, our magnificent, wondrous minds, should always be open. What could be more precious.
A thought provoking day.
*What I didn’t at first realise was that Katherine Dowson’s work was based on her own brain scan, part of a research project into dyslexia, her work on this subject, well, lets just say it speaks to me…